The Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules, laid on 6 September 2013, contains a number of new measures that are relevant to businesses, universities and other sponsors holding licences under Tiers 2 and 5.
Although the new sets of Sponsor Guidance won’t be issued until the new changes come into force in October, we’ve decided to take a closer look now at what the new measures are likely to mean in practice.
Tier 2: High earners (£152,100 plus) – new options for business owners
Currently individuals who own more than 10% of the shares in the sponsor’s business are unable to enter the UK under Tier 2. In a move that is extremely positive, this requirement is going to be waived completely for individuals who will earn £152,100 or more.
Already under Tier 2, the individual does not need to be the direct employee of the sponsor. The sponsor does, however, need to be able to fulfill its duties of being able to monitor the individual. In addition, a Resident Labour Market Test does not need to be performed where the sponsored individual will earn £152,000 or more.
At the moment, those owning more than 10% of shares in a UK business can only come to the UK to work in the business via one of the other immigration categories, typically Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or Representative of Overseas Business, providing they are not a majority shareholder.
This relaxation of the rules on shareholding therefore opens up a new route for business owners and employees owning more than 10% of shares.
Because a Tier 2 sponsor licence already needs to be in place before an individual can be sponsored, the extent to which this change may or may not help individuals who are setting up a new business for the first time in the UK will need to be considered carefully when the new Sponsor Guidance is published.
Tier 2: Intra-company transfers
At the moment there is an English language requirement in place for individuals in the Tier 2 (ICT) category who earn less then £152,100 and are extending their stay beyond three years. This is going to be removed completely.
The Home Office has justified this on the basis that holders of ICT status who will be affected by this measure are unable to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Changes to the business visitor route will:
- permit employees to undertake corporate training in the UK where it is delivered by an external company
- enable global organisations to bring their own auditors to the UK under the business visitor route, making it easier for them to complete internal audits
- allow business visitors (including academic visitors and visiting professors who were also previously prohibited from studying) to study for up to 30 days
Graduate entrepreneurs switching into Tier 2
Individuals who are switching from Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) will be able to switch to the Tier 2 category more easily.
Sponsors will not have to complete a Resident Labour Market Test and the salary can be paid at the ‘new entrant’ level rather than at the experienced work level.
Tier 4 students switching into Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange)
Students who are sponsored under Tier 4 will be allowed to switch into Tier 5 (Government Authorised Exchange) in order to undertake internships of up to 12 months long. The internship must directly relate to the qualification studied in the UK.
Forming part of the government’s aim to showcase the UK as open for business and keen to attract global talent, these and all the other new changes will be phased in from 1 October 2013.
Businesses and universities needing more detailed information about the changes can contact us here.